Tears flow as Tiger takes 135th Open Championship
Tiger Woods' second major without his father Earl around to see it ended like 10 others before -- with the world's greatest player left holding the trophy. After tapping in Sunday for a 5-under 67, Woods won the Open Championship, hugged his caddie and burst into tears.
By T.J. Auclair, Junior Editor
HOYLAKE, England -- In just his third tournament since the Masters and the death of his beloved father and best friend Earl, Tiger Woods turned in the type of performance that has defined his excellence through the years and won the 135th Open Championship at Royal Liverpool on Sunday.
With the coolest temperatures of the week in the low 70s and a swift breeze blowing off the nearby Irish Sea, Woods shot a 5-under-par 67, which tied for the best round of the day. His 18-under-par 270 total was just enough to hold off a spirited run by Chris DiMarco, who finished alone in second, two shots back, at 16 under par.
When Woods tapped in his final putt on No. 18, he bear-hugged caddie Steve Williams for several seconds, sobbing on Williams' shoulder as thoughts of his late father flooded his mind. Woods was more emotional after winning here than his famous embrace with his father after taking home his first major title at the 1997 Masters.
"He would have been very, very proud," Woods said, when asked what his father would have thought of the latest win. "He was always on my case about thinking my way around the golf course and not letting emotions get the better of you, because it's so easy to do in this sport. And, just use your mind to plot your way around the golf course and if you had to deviate from the game plan, make sure it is the right decision to do that. He was very adamant that I play like that my entire playing career."
The victory, Woods' third in the British Open and second in a row, tied him with Walter Hagen with 11 major championship titles overall -- second only to Jack Nicklaus' 18. Woods also became the first player since Tom Watson in 1983 to win the Open Championship in back-to-back years.
Woods, who won $1,338,480 for the win and moved to No. 1 on the PGA Tour money list, is now 11-for-11 when leading or co-leading a major heading into the final round.
"Wow, I don't know where to begin," said Woods, while staring at golf's oldest trophy, the Claret Jug. "I'm excited, worn out, just so many emotions to describe right now because I guess it all came out on 18. If you're looking at it from a golf standpoint, it was such a difficult week, with the fairways and greens being as hard and fast as the were and Chris playing beautiful golf today."
Three-time major champion Ernie Els finished alone in third-place at 13 under par. The big South African shot a 1-under-par 71 in the final round. It was his best finish in a major since a tie for fourth at the 2004 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
Former U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk finished alone in fourth place, while Spain's Sergio Garcia tied for fifth with Japan's Hideto Tanihara at 11 under par.
Garcia entered the day just one shot behind Woods, but fizzled quickly because of some horrible putting.
The Spaniard bogeyed Nos. 2 and 3, both on putts inside of 5 feet, and missed a 10-footer for par on both Nos. 8 and 9. He was 10 shots worse on his front-nine Sunday with a 39 than he was in a masterful 29 on Saturday.
Statistically speaking, Garcia's troubles in the final round were no surprise. His final-round scoring average on the PGA Tour is 74.00, seventh-worst out of 190 players.
With Garcia bowing out early the headliners of the day quickly shifted from Tiger/Sergio to Tiger/DiMarco.
Woods made noise for the first time Sunday at No. 5, where he holed a long eagle putt that dropped in center-cut, which gave him a two-shot lead at 15 under par over Els at the time.
DiMarco, like Woods, recently lost a parent. His mother, Norma, died suddenly from a heart attack on July fourth.
With their deceased parents weighing heavily on their minds, Woods and DiMarco traded birdies like punches in a heavyweight title bout throughout the back nine. Woods eventually pulled away with three straight birdies beginning on No. 14, which gave him a three-shot lead over DiMarco at 18 under par.
"I know my mom would be very proud of right now," DiMarco said. "One, for playing well, but two, because that's how she was. I miss her and I love her and I have great memories of her and that's the hardest part and that I know I'll never see her again. But I know if I close my eyes I see her. She is and was a wonderful woman."
For his part, DiMarco made birdies on Nos. 10, 13, 16 and 18 to put up a fight. However, his best shot of the week was likely his par save on No. 14.
After pulling his second shot left of the green and into deep, heavy, gnarly rough, DiMarco sent a difficult chip shot sailing across the green. That meant he had 60 feet left for a par to -- at the time -- stay within one shot of the lead.
DiMarco briefly pulled within one shot of the lead with his birdie at 13, but Woods extended it back to two shots with his birdie on 14.
The feisty 37-year-old DiMarco, who has twice been defeated in major championship playoffs (the 2005 Masters to Woods, and the 2004 PGA Championship to Vijay Singh), deftly holed the unlikely par putt and sent the Royal Liverpool crowds into a frenzy.
"If you can't get up playing the best player in the world in a major, I don't know what else there is," DiMarco said. "It pumps me up."
But in the end, Woods was just too much. Nearly flawless in every aspect of his game, the lone blemish on Woods' card was a bogey on the par-4 12th, where he missed a 15-foot par putt.
"I didn't miss-hit any shots today," said Woods, who at last month's U.S. Open missed the cut in a major for the first time as a professional. "I may have started a ball left a couple of times, or hit a couple to the right, but they were hit flush, and that's a pretty neat feeling when you're able to do that, to never really miss-hit a golf shot, to hit it flush. I started off on line, but at least it's hit correctly and you can always make adjustments for that, that's easy."